NBC News did a story about the almost 12,000 unexamined rape kits that were found in a Detroit evidence warehouse after a crime lab there was closed down a few years ago. They’re slowly going through the process of testing them, with no funding from the state to do so, and it’s showing results:
So far, 600 kits have been tested, and investigators say that they have discovered evidence of 21 serial rapists. Grant money funded the testing of those kits. Worthy said it costs on average between $1,200 and $1,500 to get each kit tested. People have wanted to donate money to help get kits tested, but the prosecutor’s office cannot solicit or collect funds. But now a non-profit organization, the Detroit Crime Commission, has set up a fund and will manage it for the purpose of accepting donations and using those funds to help pay to get kits tested.
Some of the kits tested have revealed sobering results. One kit from 2002 revealed DNA belonging to a man who was in prison for the murder of three women. The murders had been committed during the seven years the rape kit sat on a warehouse shelf.
The Detroit Police department says that they completed an internal review in 2009. NBC News filed an official request for records of any internal investigation, and two months later we received an eight page document. In it, the police say once they became aware of the situation in the warehouse, they randomly pulled 36 of the stored rape kits and found there were “justifiable reasons” for not testing them. Those reasons, police say, include victims who refused to prosecute or were uncooperative and assailants who pleaded guilty to lesser charges. When NBC News showed the report to Worthy, she questioned its validity.
“Their reasons were just made-up reasons as to why there should be no investigation,” Worthy said.
The piece includes an incredible story about one woman who was raped 14 years ago and was recently informed that, because the evidence was finally examined, they now know who did it and that person is going to be prosecuted.